Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy
Guide to Nelson County, Kentucky ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
- 1 County Information
- 2 Resources
- 2.1 Bible Records
- 2.2 Biographies
- 2.3 Business, Commerce, and Occupations
- 2.4 Cemeteries
- 2.5 Census Records
- 2.6 Church Records
- 2.7 Court Records
- 2.8 Directories
- 2.9 Emigration and Immigration
- 2.10 Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
- 2.11 Funeral Homes
- 2.12 Genealogies
- 2.13 Guardianship
- 2.14 Land and Property Records
- 2.15 Local Histories
- 2.16 Maps and Gazetteers
- 2.17 Migration
- 2.18 Military Records
- 2.19 Naturalization and Citizenship
- 2.20 Newspapers
- 2.21 Obituaries
- 2.22 Other Records
- 2.23 Periodicals
- 2.24 Probate Records
- 2.25 School Records
- 2.26 Tax Records
- 2.27 Vital Records
- 3 Research Facilities
- 4 Societies
- 5 Websites
- 6 Research Guides
- 7 References
The County was named for Thomas Nelson, Jr. The County has Bardstown as its seat and the County was created November 29, 1784. The County is located in the north central area of the state.
Nelson County, Kentucky Record Dates
Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
For animated maps illustrating Kentucky county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Kentucky County Boundary Maps" (1776-1939) may be viewed for free at the MapofUS.org website.
The following are locations in the county.
- KY Biographies, Jeff Murphy's Kentucky Biographies Project
Business, Commerce, and Occupations
The following web sites have additional information on Nelson county cemeteries.
- Interment.net, Kentucky cemetery records by county.
- Cemetery Junction, Links to cemetery transcriptions
- Naming the Forgotten, The Eastern State Hospital Project
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, Local volunteers may take photographs of headstones found in county cemeteries.
- ePodunk list of Nelson County cemeteries gives the names of the cemeteries in the county with a link to more information such as address, phone number, and web site.
1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of Nelson County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Kentucky Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than online nationwide indexes.
See Kentucky Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.
- 1790 - Lost, but a substitute is available, see Taxation.
- Kentucky Census Transcriptions 1850-1930, USGenWeb
- Census Images, USGenWeb
- KY Census Online, Links to online census records
Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Kentucky denominations, view the Kentucky Church Records wiki page.
- Kentucky Christian Church Directory, ChurchAngel
- Catholic Parishes in the Diocese of Lexington
- Catholic Parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville
- Abstracts of Early Kentucky Supreme Court Cases, KYGenWeb
- Kentucky Court of Justice Research & Reference
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
- The KY African American Griots Project
- African American Research (US) has more information about the kinds of records available
- Kentucky Minorities has information specific to Kentucky African Americans.
- Sandi Gorin's Tips, Hangings in Kentucky 1792 - 1900
- [Abell] House, Katherine Lucille. George Monroe Abell and Lucinda Ludwell Able: A Story of Two Nelson County, Kentucky, Families; with Some Allied Families, Callahan, Carpenter, Coppage, Hurst, Linthicum, Pennebaker, Slaughter, Tucker and Related Families. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2001. FHL Book 929.273 Ab35h
- [Abell] House, Katherine Lucille. George Monroe Abell (1841-1900) and Lucinda Ludwell Able (1853-1934): A Story of Two Nelson County, Kentucky Families, with Ancestors Including George Abell (1802-1866) and Robert Able (1794-1840). Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2005. FHL Book 929.273 Ab35h 2005
- [Able] See Abell.
- [Beard] Cowles, Frank. William Beard of Nelson County, Kentucky and His Descendants. Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, 1986. FHL Book 929.273 B38cf
- [Beeler] Pappas, Carolyn H. "Christopher Beeler, 1705-1775," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 43, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1999):243-255; Vol. 44, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2000):18-30; Vol. 44, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2000):115-125. Digital version at American Ancestors ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg.
- [Blue] Erickson, Emma Louise Graves. Richard and Cynthia Goggins Graves Descendants, Shelby Co., Kentucky, Pulaski Co., Arkansas, Northern California Side Line of Abraham and John Blue of Nelson Co., Ky., Washington Co., Miss., Chicot Co., Ark. Corvallis, Ore.: E.L. Erickson, 1982. FHL Book 929.273 A1 no. 5379
- [Bowling] Bowling, Katherine Louise. Bowling: Thomas Bowling: His Forefathers of Maryland, His Descendants of Nelson County, Kentucky. Cuyohoga Falls, Ohio: K. L. Bowling, 1976. FHL Film 1598229 Item 3
- [Brown] House, Katherine Lucille. The Descendants of William E. Brown and Katherine Mary Edwards in Nelson County, Kentucky: and Including Brown, Edwards and Sharp family; Ancestors in Washington, Mercer and Anderson Counties in Kentucky. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 2003. FHL Book 929.273 B815h
- [Carter] Darling, Lu Ann W. The History and the Mystery of the William Carter Family of Nelson County, Kentucky and Crawford County, Illinois. Los Angeles, Calif.: L.W. Darling, 1997. FHL Book 929.273 C246d
- [Craven] Craven, Patricia. The Craven Clan of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Various Kentucky Counties Nelson, Washington, Marion, Boone, Fayette, Jessamine, Henry. Chicago, Ill.: P. Craven, 1988. FHL Book 929.273 C855cr
- [Davis] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7
- [Finn] House, Katherine Lucille. The Hurst and Finn Families of Nelson County, Kentucky: Descendants of Abraham B. Hurst and Sabina Bowles and John Finn and Mary Conroy. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1999. FHL Book 929.273 H943hk
- [Frakes] Frakes, Nina Howlett. Descendants of Philip and Phoebe (Case) Frakes of Nelson County, Kentucky and Sullivan and Vigo Counties, Indiana: With Known Data on Other Friggs--Freake--Fraiks--Frakes Families. San Mateo, Calif.: N.H. Frakes, 1979. FHL Film 1033850 Item 4
- [Gilkey] Gilkey, Kenneth Edward. Gilkeys of Early Kentucky 1780-2000: This Book Focuses Primarily on William Gilkey of Caldwell Co., Ky. and His Descendants and His Brothers, David Gilkey of Union County, Ky. and John Gilkey of Nelson Co. Ky. and Their Descendants. Newburgh, Ind.: K.E. Gilkey, 2000. FHL Book 929.273 G397g
- [Greenwell] West, Patricia Greenwell. The Ancestors and Descendants of Thomas Rapier Greenwell: Born 18 June 1889, Nelson County, Kentucky. Blanchester, Ohio: P.G. West, [1984?]. FHL Book 929.273 G855w
- [Hurst] House, Katherine Lucille. The Hurst and Finn Families of Nelson County, Kentucky: Descendants of Abraham B. Hurst and Sabina Bowles and John Finn and Mary Conroy. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1999. FHL Book 929.273 H943hk
- [Kincheloe] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7
- [LaRue] Mather, Otis May. Six Generations of LaRues and Allied Families: Containing Sketch of Isaac LaRue, Senior, Who Died in Frederick County, Virginia in 1795, and Some Account of His American Ancestors and Three Generations of His Descendants and Families Who Were Connected by Inter-marriage: Among Others Carman, Hodgen, Helm, Buzan, Rust ... : Copies of Six Old Wills and Other Documents, Various Incidents Connected with the Settlement of the Nolynn Valley in Kentucky; Also a Chapter on the La Rue Family and the Child Abraham Lincoln. Hodgenville, Kentucky: O.M. Mather, 1921. Available at FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 L329m 1968; FHL US/CAN Film 1208 [2 listings at FHL]; digital versions at Ancestry ($); Internet Archive - free; and World Vital Records ($).
- [McClaskey] McClaskey, Michael J., Carol F. McClaskey, Kenneth L. McClaskey, and Barbara M. McClaskey. Descendants of James McClaskey of Nelson County, Kentucky. Idaho Falls, Idaho: B. M. McClaskey, 1981. FHL Large Q Book 929.273 M132mc
- [Mills] Hackett, John Davis and Kathryn Dickerson Shannon. "Mills Families of Virginia," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 35, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep. 1991):215-228; Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 1991):284-296; Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1992):34-48; Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1992):109-119. Digital version at American Ancestors ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 35 (1991)-v. 36 (1992).
- [Popham] Burgess, Jane F. "John Popham (by 1757-1815/7) of Culpeper County, Virginia, and His Children," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec. 2001):299-304; Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2002):57-64; Vol. 46, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 2002):119-125. Digital version at American Ancestors ($); FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 45 (2001).
- [Rhodes] Stovall, Wilda Ortkiese and Fern Walker Blanford. Herod Rhodes 1826-1915 Wife Mary Sarah Frances Jenkins 1829-1920 of Nelson County, Kentucky with Some Descendants. n.p.: F.W. Blanford, 2008. FHL Book 929.273 R346bf
- [Rogers] Rogers, Lon B. "Colonel James Rogers (1742--1828) Nelson County Pioneer," The Kentucky Genealogist, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1961):3-6.
- [Thompson] Lovejoy, Florence Thompson. Athanatius Thompson, Maryland to Nelson Co., Ky., ca. 1780. MSS., Willard Library, Evansville, Ind. Reproduction: FHL Film 1481385 Item 16
- [Wickliffe] Moore, Robert P. Ancestors and Nelson Co., Ky., Associates of the Kincheloe, Wickliffe, and Davis Families of Prince William County, Virginia. Lexington, Ky.: R.P. Moore, 1996. FHL Film 1425391 Item 7
Land and Property Records
Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.
See Kentucky Land and Property for additional information about early Kentucky land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.
Local histories are available for Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories see the wiki page section Kentucky Local Histories.
Maps and Gazetteers
- Maps of Kentucky (1776-1939)
- KYGenWeb compiled list of maps
- Click on the county to go to the KYGenWeb site
- Military Resources, Revolutionary War through Civil War
- 1861-1865 - Kentucky Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- 1861-1865 - Kentucky Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch — index
- 1861-1865 - U.S., Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 at Ancestry — index (free)
- 1861-1865 - U.S., Union Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865 at Ancestry— index (free)
- 1912-1950 - Kentucky Confederate Pension Applications 1912-1950 at FamilySearch — index and images
Regiments. Men in Nelson County served in various regiments and companies. Those listed below were specifically formed in this county:
- - 1st Regiment, Kentucky Cavalry, Companies A, B, E and I.
- - 1st Regiment, Kentucky Veteran Cavalry (Wolford's Cavalry), Company A.
- - 15th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, Companies A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and K.
- - 28th Regiment, Kentucky Infantry, Companies B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I.
World War I
- Korean War Memorial for Soldiers from KY, KYGenWeb
Naturalization and Citizenship
- USNPL, Kentucky, Kentucky newspaper index with links
- World-Newspapers, Kentucky, Kentucky newspaper index with links
- Kentucky Newspapers on Microfilm
Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:
- Kentucky Footsteps Archives, KYGenWeb
- Kentucky Obituary Sources, KYGenWeb
- Links to research and locate obituaries
- Browning Genealogy Database, Compiled by Charles Browning.
- Kentucky Obituaries, USGenWeb
- Afrigeneas, African American death notices, obituaries and funeral programs compiled by users from current newspapers and historical sources
- Obituary Depot, Kentucky Newspaper Citations
- Obituary Daily Times, Citations to over 15,000,000 obituaries including interactive search function
- Nashville Christian Advocate Death Abstracts
- Kentucky Postcards, USGenWeb
Probate records are held by the Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy Clerk of Court and are housed at the Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy Courthouse. Microfilmed records can be found online at Kentucky, Probate Records, 1792-1977 for Caldwell, Henry, Hickman, Russell and Trimble counties. See the wiki page Kentucky Probate Records for information about how to use probate records.
Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.
Record types: Wills, estates, guardianships, naturalizations, and adoptions.
Online Probate Records
- 1774–1999 Kentucky Wills and Probate Records 1774-1999 at Ancestry ($) — index and images
- 1785-1926 Will Books 1 to 21 (1785-1926) have been digitized by FamilySearch - free.
- Strictly By Name provides free online indexes to early Nelson County probate records. They offer a record retrieval service to photocopy and transcribe microfilm copies of the original documents for a small fee. Available indexes:
- 1790-1801 Will Book 1: 1785-1790, Will Book 1A: 1790-1801
- 1802-1828 Will Books B-C: 1802-1828
- Images of Wills, Estates, Inventories, Guardianships, Book A, 1785-1790; Book A-1, 1790-1801; Book A-2, 1801-1807; Book B, 1808-1811; Book C1, 1811-1814; Book C2, 1814-1817. Kentucky Pioneers ($)
Taxes were levied on free white males over 21 and slaves aged 21 to 60. These persons are referred to as "polls." Tax listings, or digests, of a county generally list the taxable landowners and other polls and the amount of tax. The records for each county are divided by militia district. For more background information and state-wide resources see the wiki page Kentucky Taxation.
- 1785-1796 - Schroeder, Margaret Johnson and Carl A. Schroeder. Residents of Nelson County, Virginia (now Kentucky) Recorded in Tithable and Tax Lists. [1785-1796] 4 vols. Bardstown, Ky.: Schroeder, 1988. FHL. Volume 1 (1785-1791) is online at FamilySearch - free.
- 1787 - Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florene Speakman Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Name of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years, the Number of White Males Between 16 & 21 Years, the Number of Slaves over 16 & Those Under 16 Years, Together with a Listing of Their Horses, Cattle & Carriages, and Also the Names of All Persons to Whom Ordinary Licenses and Physician's Licenses Were Issued. 3 vols. Springfield, Va.: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987. Available at FHL. [Sources for this publication are 1787 personal property tax lists and 1787 tithable lists. Nelson County is included in Vol. 2.]
- 1792 - Heinemann, Charles B. "First Census" of Kentucky 1790. Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1940. 1981 reprint: FHL US/CAN 976.9 X2ph 1981; digital version at Kentucky Kinfolks. ["1 volume of 1792 was used." (p. 2)]
- 1800 - 1800 Tax List of Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy is included in Clift's Second Census of Kentucky 1800, digitized by Ancestry ($).
- Search Tax, Criminal, Land and Wills Records, Ancestry ($)
Vital records consist of birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Although Kentucky enacted a statute in 1852-1862 requiring registration of births and deaths,many counties did not comply. A second law was written in 1874-1879, and 1892-1910 but, again, was not always followed. By 1911, the law was more clearly defined and kept by 1920. Any existing births 1852-1960 and death records 1852-1953 can be accessed online. See How to Find Kentucky Birth Records and How to Find Kentucky Death Records for links to indexes and images.
Original marriage records are held at the office of the Nelson County Clerk, with divorce records 1849-1958 located with the Nelson County Circuit Court. For more information see How to Find Kentucky Marriage Records. For Kentucky divorce records see the wiki page Kentucky Vital Records.
- 1839-1960 – Kentucky Births and Christenings, 1839-1960 at FamilySearch
- 1852-1861 - Nelson County Birth Index 1852-1861. Batch C517811 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1874 - Nelson County Birth Index 1874. Batch C517812 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1875 - Nelson County Birth Index 1875. Batch C517813 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1911-1912 - Searchable KY Birth Index
- 1609-2016 - Kentucky, United States Marriages at FindMyPast — index $
- 1785-1815 - Nelson County, Kentucky Marriage Records, 1785-1815 at Ancestry ($)
- 1785-1979 – Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979 at FamilySearch
- 1797-1954 - Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1852-1861 - Nelson County Marriage Index 1852-1861. Batch M517811 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1875-1876 - Nelson County Marriage Index 1875-1876. Batch M517814 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1876-1878 - Nelson County Marriage Index 1876-1878. Batch M517815 at FamilySearch - free.
- 1973-2000 - Searchable KY Marriage Records
- 1973-2000 - Kentucky Marriage Records 1973-2000
- 1785-1815 - Nelson Marriage Records. Kentucky Pioneers ($)
- 1843-1970 – Kentucky Deaths and Burials, 1843-1970 at FamilySearch
- 1911-1965 - Kentucky Death Records, 1911-1965 at FamilySearch — index
- 1911-2000 - Searchable KY Death Index
- The Social Security Death Index - Searchable
- The Kentucky Vital Records Project, Transcriptions and Images of Kentucky Death Certificates
- 1973-1993 - Kentucky Divorce Records 1973-1993, University of Kentucky Vital Records Databases
Family History Centers
Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.
- Nelson County Public Library
201 Cathedral Manor
Bardstown, KY 40004
- Ancestral Trails Historical Society
PO Box 1796
Elizabethtown, KY 42702-1796
- Nelson County Genealogical Roundtable
PO Box 409
Bardstown, KY 40004
- Links and addresses to Kentucky genealogical and historical societies
- Nelson County, KY History, Records, Facts and Genealogy
- KYGenWeb project. Has maps, name indexes, history or other information for each county. Select the county.
- State of Kentucky Website
- USGenWeb Kentucky Archives
- The USGenWeb project May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county. Select the state, then the county.
- Nelson County, Kentucky Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Nelson County KY Genealogy (Kentucky Genealogy)
- FamilySearch Catalog . Free - The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection. Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Kentucky. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Nelson County, Kentucky" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_County,_Kentucky."
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nelson County, Kentucky page 274, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Nelson County, Kentucky. Page 268-276 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 251-254.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Kentucky. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Nelson County, Kentucky," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_County,_Kentucky, accessed 5 September 2018.
- G. Glenn Clift, Second Census of Kentucky 1800: A Privately Compiled and Published Enumeration of Tax Payers Appearing in the 79 Manuscript Volumes Extant of Tax Lists of the 42 Counties of Kentucky in Existence in 1800 (1954; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2005).
- Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/7/75/Igikentuckymz.pdf.